Triple Conjunction

From Academic Kids

A triple conjunction is an astronomical event, where two planets or a planet and a star meet each other three times in a short period either in opposition or at the time of inferior conjunction, if an inferior planet is involved. The visible movement of the planet or the planets in the sky is therefore normally prograde at the first conjunction, retrograde at the second conjunction and again prograde at the third conjunction.

There are three possible cases of triple conjunctions.

Contents

Triple conjunctions between Mercury and Venus

At nearly every inferior conjunction there is a triple conjunction between Mercury and Venus. In most cases the second conjunction is not visible, because both planets have a too small elongation from the Sun. Triple conjunctions between Mercury and Venus are also possible, if Mercury and Venus are at the same time in inferior conjunction. This event is much rarer and the second conjunction between Mercury and Venus is also invisible.

Triple conjunctions of inferior planets with superior planets or stars

If Mars is in conjunction with the Sun, there is often a triple conjunction between Mars and Mercury or between Mars and Venus. In the events in which Mercury is involved, the second conjunction is invisible because of small elongation from sun; both other events are difficult to see because of the nearness to horizon and the relatively low brightness of Mars, which is there always near its greatest distance from earth, barely visible.

For a Mars-Venus triple conjunction all three events can almost always be seen, but Mars is dim because of its great distance from the Earth.

Triple conjunctions between the inferior planets Mercury and Venus and the superior planets Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus, Neptune, Pluto or with stars take place when these objects are at the same time in conjunction to sun while Mercury or Venus are at inferior conjunction. Frequently the second conjunction takes place when both bodies are too close to the sun in order to be seen, while the other conjunctions are easily visible, especially if the other body is Jupiter, Saturn or a bright star.

With the dim planets Uranus, Neptune and Pluto the visibility of such an event is difficult, because of the low elongation from Sun.

Triple conjunctions of Mercury and Venus with the exterior planets Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus, Neptune, and Pluto happen relatively frequently (approximately once in 10 years). During the movement in their inferior conjunction loop Mercury and Venus are always involved in triple conjunctions with some stars. Triple conjunctions with bright stars are as frequent as with exterior planets.

Triple conjunctions between two exterior planets

These are the most interesting triple conjunctions, because all three conjunctions can be seen very easily, because of the great elongation of the planets or stars involved. Triple conjunctions between exterior planets or an exterior planet and a star can only occur when these objects are nearly simultaneously in opposition.

Triple conjunctions between the bright exterior planets are very rare: the last triple conjunctions between Mars and Jupiter occurred in 1789-'90, in 1836-'37 and in 1979-'80. The next events of this kind will be again in 2123 and in 2169-'70.

The last triple conjunctions between Mars and Saturn took place in 1779, 1877 (only in right ascension) and in 1945-'46. The next triple conjunction between these planets will occur in 2148-'49, in 2185 and in 2187.

For both at triple conjunctions between Mars and Jupiter and for triple conjunctions between Mars and Saturn it is possible that two such events follow at an interval of only 2 years. This last happened for Mars and Jupiter 927 and 929 and will be again in 2742 and 2744. It last happened for Mars and Saturn in 1742-'43 and 1744-'45 and will occur again in 2185 and 2187.

The most historically important triple conjunction was that one between Jupiter and Saturn in 7 BCE-5 BCE, which is the most common explanation for the star of Bethlehem. Triple conjunctions between Jupiter and Saturn -- so-called Greatest Conjunctions -- last took place in 1682-'83, 1821 (only in right ascension), 1940-'41 and 1981. It will not occur again until 2238-'39.

There are more frequent triple conjunctions of Jupiter with Uranus or Neptune. They are unspectacular, but offer a good possibility for amateur astronomers to find these dim planets. The next triple conjunction between Jupiter and Uranus will be in 2010-'11 and the next between Jupiter and Neptune will be in 2009.

At each opposition, because of the visible loop movement of the planets, there are triple conjunctions between the planet and some stars. Triple conjunctions between planets and bright stars close to the zodiac are not so frequent (approximately 2 events in 10 years)

Triple conjunction of the planets Mars, Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus und Neptune in right ascension between 1800 and 2100

Year Involved planets 1st Conjunction 2nd Conjunction 3rd Conjunction
1821 Uranus-Neptune March 17th May 7th December 2nd
1821 Jupiter-Saturn June 25th November 23rd December 23rd
1836/37 Mars-Jupiter November 14th, 1836 March 5th, 1837 March 23rd, 1837
1843 Jupiter-Neptune April 9th September 15th November 5th
1845 Mars-Neptune June 18th September 2nd October 3rd
1846 Saturn-Neptune March 31st September 14th December 3rd
1851/52 Saturn-Uranus July 15th,1851 October 4th, 1851 March 4th, 1852
1877 Mars-Saturn July 27th August 26th November 4th
1888 Mars-Uranus January 9th May 5th June 7th
1896/97 Mars-Neptune September 24th, 1896 December 12th, 1896 February 19th, 1897
1896/97 Saturn-Uranus December 28th, 1896 June 19th, 1897 August 26th, 1897
1907 Mars-Uranus May 2nd July 19th August 24th
1919/20 Jupiter-Neptune September 23st, 1919 March 13rs, 1920 April 20th, 1920
1927/28 Jupiter-Uranus July 9th, 1927 August 19th, 1927 January 23rd, 1928
1932/33 Mars-Neptune December 5th, 1932 March 11st, 1933 May 16th, 1933
1940/41 Jupiter-Saturn August 15th, 1940 October 12st, 1940 February 20th, 1941
1943/44 Mars-Uranus September 9th, 1943 December 26th, 1943 January 20th, 1944
1945/46 Mars-Saturn October 26th, 1945 January 22nd, 1946 March 19th, 1946
1952/53 Saturn-Neptune November 18th, 1952 May 31st, 1953 July 11st, 1953
1954/55 Jupiter-Uranus October 8th, 1954 January 6th, 1955 May 10st, 1955
1964/65 Mars-Uranus December 5th, 1964 April 3rd, 1965 May 6th, 1965
1968/69 Jupiter-Uranus December 9th, 1968 March 15th, 1969 July 18th, 1969
1971 Jupiter-Neptune February 2nd May 20th September 18th
1979/80 Mars-Jupiter December 13th, 1979 March 2nd, 1980 May 4th, 1980
1981 Jupiter-Saturn January 14th February 19th July 30th
1983 Jupiter-Uranus February 17th May 16th September 24th
1988 Saturn-Uranus February 13th June 27th October 18th
1989 Saturn-Neptune March 3rd June 24th November 12nd
1993 Uranus-Neptune January 26th September 17th September 28th
2009 Jupiter-Neptune May 25th July 13th December 20st
2010/11 Jupiter-Uranus June 6th, 2010 September 22nd, 2010 January 2nd, 2011
2025/26 Saturn-Neptune June 29th, 2025 August 6th, 2025 February 16th, 2026
2037/38 Jupiter-Uranus September 8th, 2037 February 19th, 2038 March 30th, 2038
2041/42 Mars-Uranus November 2nd, 2041 March 16th, 2042 March 18th, 2042
2047/48 Jupiter-Neptune July 24th, 2047 November 15th, 2047 February 26th, 2048
2063 Mars-Uranus February 23rd May 27th July 17th
2066 Jupiter-Uranus January 19th June 27th August 18th
2071/72 Mars-Neptune October 8th, 2071 February 5th, 2072 February 29th, 2072
2079 Saturn-Uranus February 28th August 29th October 23rd
2085/86 Jupiter-Neptune October 30th, 2085 January 13rd, 2086 June 8th, 2086
2088/89 Mars-Neptune December 14th, 2088 January 4th, 2089 May 13rd, 2089
2093 Jupiter-Uranus May 16th October 27th November 30th


Triple conjunction of the planets Mars, Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus und Neptune in ecliptic longitude between 1800 and 2100

Year Involved planets 1st Conjunction 2nd Conjunction 3rd Conjunction
1821 Uranus-Neptune March 22nd May 3rd December 3rd
1836/37 Mars-Jupiter November 15th, 1836 February 28th, 1837 March 29th, 1837
1843 Jupiter-Neptune April 9th September 12th November 8th
1845 Mars-Neptune June 21st August 22nd October 8th
1846 Saturn-Neptune April 4th September 5th December 11st
1888 Mars-Uranus January 11th May 4th June 5th
1896/97 Mars-Neptune September 24th, 1896 December 13rd, 1896 February 18th, 1897
1897 Saturn-Uranus January 6th June 1st September 9th
1907 Mars-Uranus May 2nd July 17th August 26th
1919/20 Jupiter-Neptune September 24th, 1919 March 8th, 1920 April 24th, 1920
1927/28 Jupiter-Uranus July 15th, 1927 August 11st, 1927 January 25th, 1928
1932/33 Mars-Neptune December 6th, 1932 March 7th, 1933 May 17th, 1933
1940/41 Jupiter-Saturn August 8th, 1940 October 20th, 1940 February 15th, 1941
1943/44 Mars-Uranus September 9th, 1943 December 30th, 1943 January 16th, 1944
1945/46 Mars-Saturn October 27th, 1945 January 20th, 1946 March 20th, 1946
1952/53 Saturn-Neptune November 21st, 1952 May 17th, 1953 July 22nd, 1953
1954/55 Jupiter-Uranus October 7th, 1954 January 7th, 1955 May 10th, 1955
1964/65 Mars-Uranus December 6th, 1964 March 29th, 1965 May 8th, 1965
1968/69 Jupiter-Uranus December 11th, 1968 March 11th, 1969 July 20th, 1969
1971 Jupiter-Neptune February 1st May 22nd September 16th
1979/80 Mars-Jupiter December 16th, 1979 February 27th, 1980 May 5th, 1980
1980/81 Jupiter-Saturn December 31st, 1980 March 4th, 1981 July 24th, 1981
1983 Jupiter-Uranus February 18th May 14th September 25th
1988 Saturn-Uranus February 13th June 26th October 18th
1989 Saturn-Neptune March 3rd June 24th November 13th
1993 Uranus-Neptune February 2nd August 19th October 25th
2009 Jupiter-Neptune May 27th July 10th December 21st
2010/11 Jupiter-Uranus June 8th, 2010 September 19th, 2010 January 4th, 2011
2037/38 Jupiter-Uranus September 8th, 2037 February 19th, 2038 March 30nd, 2038
2041/42 Mars-Uranus November 2nd, 2041 March 5th, 2042 March 28th, 2042
2047/48 Jupiter-Neptune July 22nd, 2047 November 16th, 2047 February 24th, 2048
2063 Mars-Uranus February 24th May 28th July 15th
2066 Jupiter-Uranus January 20th June 24th August 21st
2071/72 Mars-Neptune October 8th, 2071 February 2nd, 2072 March 3rd, 2072
2079 Saturn-Uranus February 26th August 31st October 21st
2085/86 Jupiter-Neptune November 1st, 2085 January 10th, 2086 June 10th, 2086
2093 Jupiter-Uranus May 17th October 21st December 5th


Note that conjunctions in right ascension and ecliptic longitude need not to take place on the same date. It is possible, that there is a triple conjunction in right ascension, but not in ecliptic longitude and vice versa.

Reference

This is a translation of the German Wikipedia (http://de.wikipedia.org) article de:Dreifache_Konjunktion. Please update as needed.de:Dreifache_Konjunktion

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